You train. You practice. You hone your skills. Then you train again. You practice more. You keep honing your skills.
But it happens. It happened to me this weekend.
I made a big, fat, glaring mistake when running the worship slides at church.
The worship team was going to go straight into the second verse after the first, skipping the chorus. They did. But I didn’t.
Sometimes my Desire to Complete a Task With Excellence yields the stage to his evil twin, Perfectionism. And Perfectionism nags and nags and nags. Perfectionism kept nagging me for the rest of the evening until I decided to close the curtain on him and write down some thoughts about Making Media Mistakes. I know that none of you ever struggle with mistakes and perfectionism, but just in case, here are some tips for preventing media mistakes, and dealing with them when they happen.
Before You Make a Mistake
Make Your Mistakes in Rehearsal - You may be a volunteer or you may be an overworked staffer who wears too many hats, but prioritize rehearsals. Run through your slides when the band is practicing, and watch each slide like a hawk. Look for places where the lyrics are wrong, and look for the places where the order may have changed. It’s much better to make the mistake before the pews are filled than after.
Practice Makes More Perfect - Thinking about trying something new or doing something that requires a little more skill or focus? Practice. Practice at rehearsal and practice BEFORE rehearsal. You’ll never be perfect, but practice will help you shake out some of the kinks. When you get done practicing, practice again.
Locate the Emergency Exits - Flight Attendants tell passengers where the emergency exits are long before the plane ever takes off. Why? Because there’s no time to educate the panicking masses when the plane is plummeting toward earth. Know how to get out of common jams using your hardware and software before emergency strikes.
When Mistakes Happen
Triage - Hopefully, you’ve done your work by locating the emergency exits before the service and you can quickly pivot from the mistake. This is key. Don’t panic. Don’t spiral into the depths of despair. Do what you need to do to fix the mistake quickly with as little noticeability as possible.
Forgive Yourself - I’m a perfectionist and I tend to let mistakes overtake me. A wise teacher once told me something that I’ve hung onto for the last couple of decades: “Even Michael Jordan had bad games.” No matter what level you’re working at, mistakes will happen, and you must learn to forgive yourself. Remember that God loves you for who you are, not what you are, what you do, or how well you do it.
Fix It Today - If a lyric was spelled incorrectly or if you had a song out of order, make a note and fix the song before you leave that day. I’ve been in church before where the same misspelling was present on a slide week after week. If you don’t fix the problem that day, you’ll forget before the next service.
Learn From It - Take “fix it” a step further, and see if there’s something bigger you can learn about yourself or your processes. I wasn’t paying attention when the band rehearsed because I was putting together announcement slides, something I should have done before I was at rehearsal. Beyond fixing the immediate issue, I needed to learn a bigger lesson. Let band rehearsal be band rehearsal and do the announcement slides another time. Mistakes are meaningless if we do not learn from them. Give your mistakes some meaning.
We are all going to make mistakes, big and small, intentional and not. We can’t do much about that, but we can learn to respond appropriately to our missteps. These are some things that have helped me over the years – some thoughts from one misstepper to another.
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